Washington Redskins 2011: Solving the Donovan McNabb Situation
April 4, 2010. A day that will haunt Washington Redskins fans for years to come.
The Washington Post headline read: "Donovan McNabb traded to Redskins." My mind read: Here we go again, trading draft picks away for a player past his prime.
On the one-year anniversary of this debacle of a move, where do the Redskins stand? They are robbed of a possible starter (second-round draft pick traded in 2010) as well as a fourth-round draft pick this year.
It is speculated that McNabb, barring typical Washington D.C. sports bizarreness, will never suit up in the burgundy and gold again. So what's the team to do? Trade him? Release him?
Unfortunately for the 'Skins, options are quite limited. A poor performance last season, and the melodrama that is the Redskins organization, have sent McNabb's stock plummeting and most likely robbed the team of any chance of rectifying the losses levied upon them.
However, not all hope is lost in this dark hour. With the lockout in full swing and plenty of time to plan a strategy concerning McNabb, Shanahan and Co. may just pull of an offseason miracle.
Option 1: Retain McNabb
Most Redskins fans are sick and tired of hearing about the possibility of McNabb returning to the Redskins this upcoming season. After the way he was humiliated by Shanahan, most believe that irreconcilable differences between coach and quarterback have eliminated any chance that McNabb returns.
There are several reasons that last season was not a successful one for McNabb: a shoddy offensive line, a short-pass-heavy scheme that doesn't play to McNabb's strengths (the deep ball and intermediate routes), a wide receiver core bereft of a true No. 1 guy, not to mention the general dysfunction that has plagued Washington's organization since the mid-'90s.
If McNabb came back next year, could things be different (aka better)? Possibly but most likely not. Without more high-round draft picks the Redskins will most likely be without the pieces in place that McNabb needs to succeed.
People often argue that McNabb's lack of success last season cannot be placed on the wide receivers, as McNabb succeeded with even more inferior groups of wideouts during his tenure in Philly. The difference there was that he had solid protection, not to mention Brian Westbrook.
McNabb would only return as a stopgap measure, keeping Rex Grossman off the field (and holding a clipboard where he belongs) as well as providing time for the Redskins to find a true franchise quarterback (Hint: there are none in this year's draft).
People argue that his contract is simply too much for the Redskins to keep, but Shanahan and Allen created this mess and they might just have to sleep in the bed they made.
Option 2: Release McNabb
If the Redskins are unable to find another team willing to provide them with a reasonable offer for McNabb's services, then releasing him, swallowing their losses, and allowing him to play for another team scot-free becomes an option.
It's an option that I personally would hate to see more than Albert Haynesworth receiving a contract extension.
Once again the argument towards release revolves around the almighty "dolla, dolla bills, y'all." McNabb signed an incredibly lucrative extension right after the Redskins humiliated him by putting in Rex Grossman at the end of the Lions game. (If only amnesia was selective.)
If McNabb is not released, the Redskins will owe him a bundle of cash that could go towards investing in other players.
If the Redskins will not use him as their starter and can't trade him, I will agree with others that he would be a very expensive and far overpriced clipboard holder. It would be disappointing, but in that case it would be time for him to hit the road.
Option 3: McNabb for Joe Webb and Picks
I know what all of you are thinking right now. Clearly I was dropped on my head as a small child (or ate too much glue, or inhaled too many paint fumes). Regardless of what childhood misfortune you believe befell me, you all agree I have obviously lost my mind and should never write again.
But take a moment and hear me out.
I saw Webb play last year. I saw Jake Locker play last year. One is a projected first-round pick. The other is a former sixth-round pick that only saw the field because the Vikings' dysfunction almost rivals the Redskins'.
You heard it here first. Joe Webb is a better quarterback than Jake Locker. Yes, I said it. He is more athletic, poised and actually fits the Redskins offense relatively well.
He throws better on the move (you'd have to be blind not to notice all the bootlegs Shanahan used last year), he has a grenade launcher for an arm (figuratively speaking, of course), and has the speed and quickness to evade the rush (which he would have to do behind the Redskins offensive line).
I'm not saying he's a guaranteed franchise quarterback, and if he comes to Washington that means we will be seeing Grossman under center next season. However, if the Redskins can trade McNabb for Webb and a fifth-rounder or higher, I will take it at this point.
Better than nothing, and something about Webb last year was eye-catching. His stats were certainly not great, but he had a poise and swagger that a guy like Grossman will never have.
Option 4: McNabb to Arizona
I am making another audacious claim. So shoot me. If the Cardinals had anyone resembling a serviceable starting quarterback last season they would have won the NFC West. The team has talent, good wide receivers and an above-average offensive line.
Not to mention they play in the worst division in the NFL by leaps and bounds.
Most experts have them taking Newton or Gabbert depending on who's available, and making a play for Marc Bulger as the starter in the 2011 season. I don't know about you, but regardless of how McNabb played last year, he is still twice the quarterback Bulger could ever hope to be. Whisenhunt is on the hot seat going into next year and doesn't have time to groom a rookie quarterback (especially in this year's flawed class).
Right now McNabb is the plain girl that no one asks to prom. However, as the season approaches, look for him to start looking much more attractive to potential suitors. If the 'Skins can get a third- or at least a fourth-round draft pick for McNabb, they would be insane not to jump at the opportunity.
Option 5: Send McNabb and Haynesworth to Tennessee
Rusty Smith thinks he can be a starter in the NFL. If I was dropped on my head as a small child, then he rode his tricycle off a cliff.
The Titans need a quarterback. The Titans need help on the defensive line. Enough said.
Tennessee has been reminiscent of the guy who got dumped by his high school sweetheart and still pines away in his 30s. Since the Redskins signed Haynesworth to the single largest (and dumbest) contract for a defensive player in NFL history, the Titans have been waiting in the wings hoping to reclaim the problem child, and this just may be their lucky day.
The odds are not high that McNabb will suit up as a Redskin ever again. The 'Skins need to do whatever they can to unload his hefty contract while still getting some sort of value for him. Hopefully Shanahan and Allen find some way to get it done.
Regardless of what happens, I personally wish McNabb the best of luck. He conducted himself with the utmost class during his short tenure as a Redskin in the face of public humiliation and private dysfunction. There is much to be said for a player like that in today's NFL.
Oh, and McNabb—lose the beard.
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